If you listened to Monday’s RaptorBlog Radio podcast, you already know that this is my last day as an employee of theScore, and this will be my last post on RaptorBlog for the foreseeable future. I would never say never in terms of ever writing for this blog again, because I have great affection for this company and for the guys who are taking over this blog. It just so happens that I’m starting a new job with another media company next month, and it would be pretty awkward if I continued to contribute here after that point.
The gracious thing for me to do would be to express great regret that I will be no longer covering the Raptors after 10 years of devoting a significant portion of my life doing so, but I’m choosing honesty over grace in this post. The truth of the matter is that when I consider what it will be like to no longer feel obligated to watch every Raptors game and express my opinions about them, I feel nothing. This franchise has finally sapped my will to give a crap about it.
When I started this blog 10 years ago, I wasn’t motivated by diehard fandom. The Raptors were definitely my favorite sports team at the time, but I was really motivated by what I saw as a market opportunity. I wanted to find a way to break into the sports media business, and when I saw the quantity and passion of Raptors fans online and compared that to the pathetic coverage of this team in mainstream media, I said to myself, “I think I can give these people what they want.” How successful I was in that department is debatable, but here I am.
What isn’t debatable is that this franchise has been a miserable failure since I started RaptorBlog in October 2002. The Raptors only made the playoffs twice during that period, and they lost in the first round both times. I often joke that I cursed the franchise when I started this blog. The joke has grown old, and so has my will to get outraged over all the things that have pissed off Raptors fans in the past decade. Too many of those frustrations show no signs of going away, and I’m tired of pointing out problems that almost everybody except for the employees of this franchise seem capable of understanding — or willing to change because ongoing profitability makes those changes unnecessary.
It wasn’t the ongoing incompetence that destroyed my passion for this team, it was the tolerance for that incompetence. From the players to the coaches to the front office, it’s become increasingly clear that the Toronto Raptors are doomed to indefinite irrelevance as long as they can continue to make money with bread and circuses. Every sports fan has their own relationship with their favorite sport and team, but I prefer to treat sports as a fun distraction from the daily grind that most of us have to endure to make ends meet and get out of bed every morning. This team ceased to serve that purpose for me a long time ago, so I plan to go forward with an approach to sports where I watch whatever games interest me most on that particular day. Most of the time, Raptors games are only interesting to the masochistic diehard fans who inexplicably revel in complaining about the outrage du jour after another loss.
I used to fantasize about how cool it would be to write about the exquisite relief of the Raptors finally winning an NBA championship. I now recognize what a sad and unrealistic fantasy that was. Even when exciting new players like Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas join the roster, the Raptors somehow continue to marinate in fail-sauce one way or another. I’m tired of stressing out about this team — I have far more important things to worry about.
I remain extremely grateful for all the readers and commenters who validated my egotistical belief that I had something to say about this team that was at least as worthwhile as the guys getting paid for their opinions. I plan to remain active on Twitter and while I won’t watch every Raptors game going forward, you can be sure my morbid curiosity will compel me to check out my old flame from time to time. As always, I’ll never be shy in giving my opinion on any topic you want to bounce off me.
This blog will live on in the extremely capable hands of Joseph Casciaro and Oliver Macklem. They’re smart, passionate sports journalists and they’re far more knowledgeable about the NBA than I was at their age. I thoroughly enjoyed working with them and I’ll be thrilled if one of them gets to write the championship post I always dreamed of writing.
Later today, after I hand in my laptop, my cell phone and my pass card to theScore management, I’ll join some of my soon-to-be-ex-Score colleagues at Shoeless Joe’s at 276 King Street West in Toronto. If you’d like to drop by and say hello and commiserate with me about the woeful state of being a Raptors fan, you know I’ll be a friendly ear.
I’ve rambled long enough. My self-indulgence does have some limits, believe it or not. I’ll close by saying that I don’t know where I’d be today if it wasn’t for all of you, but I do know my life would be a lot more boring. Mahalo.